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Chapter 1-2

EESA06H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1-2: Continental Drift, Paleontology, Supercontinent

Environmental Science
Course Code
Nick Eyles

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Physical Geology
Ch.1 - Introduction to Physical Geology and
the Environment
Geology: study of the earth
- Pangea, ‘all the land’, supercontinent
Cross-Section: a hypothetical vertical slice through the land
- Continents were once joined together but separated and drifted apart
- Theory of continental drift
- Landslides and volcanic eruptions geological processes that occur quickly
- Occur when stores energy is released
- Most process are slow
- Mid-oceanic ridge is a giant mountain range that lies under the ocean
- Geologists spent most time looking for minerals
- Exploration geologists work for companies and look for raw materials for prospecting
- Geoscientists study geology and additional scientific fields
- Geochemists are comfortable working in the ordered environment of the laboratory
and use high-technology equipment to analyze the chemistry of rocks or minerals
- Mineralogists who study minerals
- Petrologists who study the makeup of rocks and how they form
- Petroleum geologists search for oil and gas
- Seismologists study how to measure and mitigate earthquake activity.
- Paleontologist is a specialist who studies the fossilized remains of ancient organisms
Geomatician: collect, organize, analyze, and create images from any spatial and
geographic data available in digital form
- Geoscientists usually part of team with lawyers, engineers, etc.
Scientific Method:
1. Identify a problem
2. Methodology of data collection
3. Analyze and interpret information
4. Create a hypothesis
5. Testing of hypothesis
6. Become a theory if pass
Hypothesis: a theoretical explanation
- Earth system refers to interaction between components that make up the planet

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- Universe was though to be formed by the clumping together of gas and debris in the
aftermath of the Big Bang
Nebula: cloud of gas and dust particles
- Rotate and contract, creating a bulbous core surrounded by a flattened disc
- Core collapses and starts nuclear fusion which formed our sun
- Dust in outer disc formed rocks that combined in planets
- Planetismals are irregularly shaped planets
Accretion: process of building large bodies of matter through collisions and
gravitational attraction
Terrestrial Planets: planets formed close to the sun and are small, dense and rocky
- Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars
Jovian Planets: large, low density planets
- Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune
- Collision between earth and planetismal created the moon
- Heat of accretion and gravitational compression from earth’s growth allowed planet
to melt
- Heavy material settled near planet’s centre like nickel and iron
- Lighter material rose to the surface life silica and oxygen
Differentiation: process of zonation of different materials within the planet
- “Onion-like” layers of different chemical composition and physical behaviour
- Core composed of an iron alloy
- Mantle compose of silicate (peridotite)
- Outer Crust made of light rocks like basalt and granite
- Peridotite most common rock on earth
- Knowledge of internal structure based on energy from earthquakes, volcanic
eruptions and violent plate tectonics collision
Lithospheric Plates: mantle convection breaks the crust and uppermost rigid mantle
into large pieces
Asthenosphere: uppermost part of mantle under the crust
- Very weak layer
- Movement of plates over this later is fundamental for plate tectonics
- Atmosphere derived from water and gaseous elements from volcanic eruptions
- Called outgassing
- Outgassing also may have formed oceans and lakes
- Allowed sediments to be eroded and deposited
Prokaryotes: single celled microorganisms considered earliest life forms
- Trap sediments and grow organic structures called stromatolites
- Earth system made of subsystems or spheres
- Atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and geosphere
- Two major sources of energy

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- External energy source is the sun
- Drives atmospheric and hydrologic processes
- Controls weather, climate, weathering, ocean circulation, erosion and deposition
- Internal energy source is geothermal heat
- Remains from planet’s formation and radioactive decay of minerals
- Drives plate movement, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes
- Three major rock types are igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary
Rock Cycle:
Starts as rock in mantle
Mantle rock and metamorphic rocks undergo partial melting and solidification
to form igneous rocks
Igneous and metamorphic rocks become sediments through weathering and
Sediments go through lithification and become sedimentary rocks
Igneous and sedimentary rocks become metamorphic rocks with
Magma: molten rock
Igneous Rocks: form when magma solidifies
- Magma solidifying at the surface forms extrusive igneous rocks
- Magma solidifying underneath surface forms intrusive igneous rocks
Ch.2 Plate Tectonics
- Tectonics study of the origin and arrangement of the broad structural features of the
Earth’s surface,
- Folds, faults, mountain belts, continents and earthquake belts
Plate Tectonics: large, thick plates that move slowly and change in size.
- Plate boundaries where plates move away, towards or past one another
- Make up crust and upper mantle
- Explain many diverse features of earth
- Earthquake distribution, the origin of mountain belts, the origin of sea-floor
topography, the distribution and composition of volcanoes
- Combines continental drift and sea floor spreading
Continental Drift: idea that continents move freely over the Earth’s surface,
changing their positions relative to one another
Sea-Floor Spreading: hypothesis that the sea floor forms at the crest of mid-oceanic
ridges, then moves horizontally away from the ridge crest toward an oceanic trench
- Laurasia northers super continent
- Contains North America and Eurasia
- Gondwanaland southern super continent
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